2024 BMW 530i XDrive First Drive Review: A Fine Starting Point
Still quick enough
Smart tech improvements
Too many touch controls
The i5s are more interesting
The base engine matters.
BMW has been shining the spotlight on the higher trims of its latest mid-sized sedan since it launched last month. Justifiable, really: there’s a whole heap of electrification, and the top model spits out a headline-grabbing 593 horsepower.
Yet the bulk of sales will be from this, the 2024 BMW 530i. The four-cylinder 5 Series puts in an important performance, not simply tackling a price point but providing a plush luxury experience. Whether intentional or not, the 530i also highlights the inherent limitations of internal combustion in the premium segment.
The whole 5 Series lineup is new for 2024. As part of the model’s eighth generation (internal code: G60), it’s grown a bit in all directions. But as I detailed in the eDrive40 first drive last month, the new Fiver doesn’t necessarily look larger.
As that trim name suggests, the 5 Series has gone electric. In fact, this 530i is the only gas-engined model available at launch. (A 540i xDrive model has just come on-stream in the US.) Rear-wheel drive is standard, though xDrive is available (and is itself standard in Canada). The turbo-four now produces 255 horsepower and a stout 295 pound-feet of torque, routed through the tried-and-true ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic. Those are improvements, though there’s also around 250 additional pounds (113 kilograms) to lug around.
There are precious few visual tells between gas and electric models. Even the grille is mostly filled-in here, which is usually the obvious one. Wheels? Nope. The telltale tailpipe? Tucked under the bumper. How about this: if the 5 badge is on the left of the trunk, it’s an EV. There we go.
Four into Five works fine
The eDrive40 was a Goldilocks car in Portugal: just the right amount of power to feel appropriately thrusty for a mid-sized luxo-sedan. My concern with the 530i xDrive was that it would feel underwhelming.
The reality is more adequate. The 2.0-liter’s torquey nature and now-standard mild-hybrid tech makes for a smooth and flexible daily driver experience. The 530i will hit 62 mph (100 km/h) in around six seconds, which is still plenty quick, and yet it will happily return 35 mpg (6.7 L/100 km) on the highway. Those are great stats for an “entry” model. Push into the second half of the rev range and the noise becomes a bit uncouth, but I doubt many buyers will do that with regularity.
The double-wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension has been tuned for comfort here. There’s great isolation from the outside world, and even on these big wheels, it glides over bumps and ruts. The 5 is still relatively agile for its class too, with sharp and accurate steering. There’s not much feedback however, and bumping the drive mode into Sport doesn’t change that. Par for the course, really.
Same comfortable cabin
The eighth-gen Fiver essentially scales down the 7 Series experience. There’s the flashy crystal light bar, and a pleasant simplicity to the wide dashboard and its hidden air vents. The raised center console not only gives the BMW a distinct cockpit-like feel up front, but it allows for a natural placement of the iDrive dial and its various related (touch) buttons. I don’t love the latter, but there’s no arguing with the quality feel of this well-screwed-together cabin.
The very red interior of this tester uses BMW’s Veganza leather alternative; unless you told folks ahead of time, I doubt they’d think it wasn’t former cow. Space is great in both rows, with the big (optional) glass roof giving the whole experience an airier vibe.
Every new 5 Series features the same 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 14.9-inch central infotainment screen. BMW has installed iDrive 8.5 here, a significant upgrade over the existing user interface. While it’s still possible to get lost in sub-sub-menus, the main menu is much better, with user-defined easy-access options on the left, and the navigation taking up the rest. The tweaks make it much easier to operate on the move, without pulling attention away from the road. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard; the latter is amongst the quickest and easiest to set up.
BMW’s Driving Assistant Pro sees a major upgrade as well. Level 2 assistance is here, with hands-off highway functions including an automated lane change. Simply look at the side mirrors and—so long as it’s safe to do so—the 530i moves over. Sounds awkward, but as we experienced on the i5 launch in Portugal, it works quite well. BMW has found a balance that feels natural; not too quick to constantly be attempting changes, and not too long that folks aren’t paying attention.
Dollars and sense
The 530i kicks off at $58,895 in America, including destination. Plumping for that xDrive added traction bumps the price up to $61,195 ($72,980 CAD). That’s a wee bit north of the current Merc E-Class, though a new (likely pricier) generation is on the way. The Bimmer comes well-stocked too, including goodies such as a standard power trunk and wireless charger (in the US). Other options include the venerable Audi A6 and upstart Genesis G80.
Different packaging means that this US-spec tester isn’t entirely replicable in Canada. A lot of the bits—the Driving Assistant Pro, the big glass roof, adaptive headlights, etc etc—are available on both sides of the border, just bundled differently. The sticker reads $73,245; the closest match we could build on the Canadian configurator runs $83,680 CAD.
Verdict: 2024 BMW 530i xDrive First Drive Review
The 2024 BMW 530i doesn’t rock the mid-sized luxury sedan boat. It delivers a smooth, comfortable, feature-rich experience that should please plenty of folks.
If you’re not ready to make the jump to electric yet, the entry-level 5 remains a good pick. It doesn’t feel like it’s been artificially restricted to help the i5 shine. Nonetheless, the inherent benefits of an all-electric setup—instant power, near-silent progress—do align better with this larger, comfier, baby-7-Series model. The 530i is good. The i5 is better.
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Kyle began his automotive obsession before he even started school, courtesy of a remote control Porsche and various LEGO sets. He later studied advertising and graphic design at Humber College, which led him to writing about cars (both real and digital). He is now a proud member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), where he was the Journalist of the Year runner-up for 2021.
More by Kyle Patrick